Frequently Asked Questions

I'm getting a message saying "Requisites not met" when I try to register for a course.  What does this mean?

 The computer is checking each of the requirements before allowing you to register for the course and it is reporting that it doesn't have a record that you have completed all of the necessary courses.  Check that you have met all of the course requirements listed in the Academic Calendar.

If you think that there is an error or you meet the requirements but the course does not appear on your transcript please contact the undergraduate advisor.

There is space in the lecture but I'm wait listed for the tutorial.  Am I registered for the course?

No.  You need to find space in both the lecture and tutorial in order to register for the class.  Please choose an open tutorial section that fits your schedule (you can swap to any open section up to the end of the second week of classes).  If all tutorial sections are full please place yourself on the wait list so that we are aware of the demand for the course and can let you know if we decide to open a new section.  Be sure to check for any open tutorial sections particularly after grades are released for the previous term, the week before classes and in the first week of classes.

What first-year physics course should I take?

We offer four different streams for first-year physics: enriched, standard, studio and life sciences.  Which one you should take is determined by your academic program requirements.  In general, if you are in the life sciences you should be completing the life-sciences stream and if you are in the physical sciences you can complete any of the other streams.  We have a page with information on the four streams of first year physics.

I didn't take physics in high school, what course should I take?

Students who do not have credit for PHYS 12 with at least a C should register for PHYS 100.

We also have breadth science physics courses intended for non-science students.

I took physics in high school but want to take PHYS 100.  Can I take this course for credit?

The Academic Calendar specifically prohibits students with credit for PHYS 12 from taking PHYS 100 for credit.  You have the option of auditing the course, which costs half the regular tuition and does not count for credit toward your graduation requirements.

I think that I know enough physics that I should not have to take PHYS 100.  Is there a way I can skip that course?

Yes!  You can challenge a regularly-scheduled PHYS 100 final exam (contact the course instructor to make arrangements).  You can have the PHYS 12 requirement of PHYS 101 or PHYS 120 waived if you score at least 50% on the test.  You are only permitted one attempt at challenging the exam and  you may not challenge the exam if you have already attempted PHYS 100.

I'm taking a physics course at a local college and am wondering how it will transfer to SFU.  Is there somewhere I can look up that information?

Yes.  The BC Transfer Guide website has all this information.

I wasn't given transfer credit for a course I took before applying to SFU.  Is there some way to appeal that decision?

Information on appealing the transfer credits you were awarded at the time of admission is found here.

There is a course that I'd like to take at another institution.  Can it count toward my SFU program?

In order for a course from elsewhere to count toward your SFU program you need a letter of permission.  Information on the letter of permission is found here.

What are the rules about repeating courses?

Any course can be repeated once without needing permission.  If you need a third attempt at a course you will need to get permission for the third and final attempt.  If the course is in physics and you are in a program outside of physics we will want to see that you have permission from the academic unit that manages your program (eg. department).  Once you have that permission let us know what you will do differently to be successful if given permission for a third attempt and we'll consider your case.

The University has a limit of five repeated courses toward an academic program.  The Academic Calendar information on repeats is found here.

I'm looking for a breadth course.   Where can I find a list of breadth courses?

We offer Introduction to Astronomy and Logarithm and Blues as science breadth courses for non-science students.

The first-year physics courses PHYS 101, 102, 120, 121, 140 and 141 are all designated breadth science.

The University has a web page with a list of all designated breadth courses.

I'm struggling in my Physics class.  Is there help available?

There are a lot of ways to get help with your Physics course including taking advantage of your instructor's office hours, attending tutorials and getting help from the teaching assistant, and forming a study group.  If you are looking to hire a tutor, we have a list of Physics tutors here.

What academic programs does the Physics department offer?

We offer Majors programs in Physics, Applied Physics, Biological Physics and Chemical Physics

We offer Honours programs in Physics, Applied Physics, Biological Physics, Chemical Physics and Mathematical Physics.

We offer Minor programs in Physics and Nuclear Science (jointly with the Department of Chemistry).

I'm interested in transferring into the Faculty of Science and declaring a Physics Major.  How do I do this?

To transfer to the Faculty of Science please see this web page with the requirements and the address of whom you need to contact.

Once you are in the Faculty of Science, contact the Physics Advisor.

I'm not sure what courses I should be taking next term.  Do you have a planner for my physics program?

Yes!  You can find suggested schedules for each of our Major and Honours programs here.

I've had an issue that is preventing me from completing my courses this term.  Who do I contact about withdrawing from my classes?

You can find information on withdrawal and withdrawal under extenuating circumstances here.

I've been away for more than a year, but I'm ready to come back and resume my program.  How do I go about that?

You can find information on reactivation and readmission here.

When will a course next be offered?  Do you have a list of yearly offerings?

We have a page with our expected course offerings.  Sometimes we need to adjust course offerings and so we recommend checking course offerings on

I completed Advanced Placement / International Baccalaureate Physics.  What credit do I get at SFU?

There is a page with information on the transfer credit for each of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.

I'd like to get more involved.  What opportunities are there for me?

There are many ways to get more involved with the Physics Department depending on your interests and experience.  We have a program, called Adopt-A-Physicsit, for first-year students who want to get a better idea about what it means to do Physics research.  The Physics Student Association is another way to connect with other physics students.  If you are interested in Astronomy check out Starry Nights.  The Co-op Program provides another way of getting involved in physics both at SFU and in the broader community.  There are programs to fund undergraduate students performing summer research projects.  You can also do research towards an undergraduate thesis.

I'm declared in a Physics program and am wondering how many more courses I need to complete.  Where can I find help on this?

The first place to look is your Academic Progress Report.  If you still have questions contact the Physics Academic Advisor.

I'm thinking about going to graduate school after I complete my physics program.  What advice do you have for me?

Students planning on applying to physics graduate schools should be declared in an Honours program (Physics Honour or Mathematical Physics Honours).  Graduate programs in Physics want to see that you have completed Advanced Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics II, Electromagnetic Waves, Statistical Physics, and have research experience (eg. Undergraduate Honours Thesis), all of which are included in the requirements of our Honours programs.  If you are interested in using your Physics preparation for other graduate programs you should check with the people who offer that program to see what requirements they have.

I've just started my physics program but I'm already thinking about what I should be doing now to help me get a job after I graduate.  What should I be doing?

Good for you planning for your future!  Consider taking the Physics Undergraduate Seminar to learn more about what you can do with a degree in Physics.

Completing Physics Co-op will give you good practical experience and help you learn what careers are right for you.  Learn more here.

Consider completing a Minor to go with your Major program to help you stand out from the crowd.  We have a page with information on Minors that complement a Physics program.